What does a Health Information Manager do?

Tess C. Taylor

A health information manager is a specially trained professional within the healthcare field who handles confidential patient medical and health records. He is tasked with keeping all such records secure and is responsible for the safe handling of all healthcare informatics as well as updating and documenting new events into patient records as needed. In addition to managing the information contained within patient files, the health information manager is responsible for safely and securely storing all records in an electronic and hard copy format for ease in access by other healthcare staff, such as doctors, nurses, and medical billing professionals.

Failure to manage sensitive medical records can result in serious consequences for a healthcare provider.
Failure to manage sensitive medical records can result in serious consequences for a healthcare provider.

Management of healthcare information is a critical component of the healthcare system. Failure to manage sensitive medical records can result in serious consequences for any healthcare or hospital provider, including stiff penalties, legal, and financial ramifications. These can include patient wrongful death cases due to haphazard management of healthcare records.

A health information manager who works with electronic medical records may need experience in computer security.
A health information manager who works with electronic medical records may need experience in computer security.

In order to become a health information manager, in most cases, a standardized form of special training or education is required. This can take many forms, from in-house trainings at medical facilities to online certificate programs or college degree requirements. Often, it is not necessary to have a background in healthcare at all, but rather an interest in information technology in regards to healthcare or patient data.

A health information manager may train other hospital employees to handle medical records and other sensitive electronic files.
A health information manager may train other hospital employees to handle medical records and other sensitive electronic files.

Many health information managers attend a degree or certificate program and are allowed to work outside of clinical areas, so they may never have any close contact with patients or the healthcare environment whatsoever. Once proper training is acquired, the health information manager is given the responsibility for securely handling all medical records, health records, and insurance records in order to timely process patients who have received care in a medical or acute care hospital setting. These records may be in a paper form or in an electronic form. They may be audio files recorded by the attending physicians or they may be notes or codes documented in special medical reports. Health information managers should be able to interpret these records and transfer them to the permanent patient files, which may exist within the healthcare informatics system or hard copy files stored on or off site.

Information manager track public health concerns such as secondhand smoke.
Information manager track public health concerns such as secondhand smoke.

Overall, the health information manager plays a vital role in the handling and management of all patient data. This ensures that patients receive a high quality of care and that all information is kept up-to-date in their records for future care. This can prevent many serious matters and protect the healthcare facility from legal or financial damage. The work that health information managers do also ensures timely and accurate processing of medical reports for insurance billing purposes so that the patient is billed correctly and the healthcare facility gets reimbursed properly.

A health information manager may track the medical records for a patient going back to childhood.
A health information manager may track the medical records for a patient going back to childhood.
Health information managers may track a patient's eating habits to ensure they are getting needed vitamins.
Health information managers may track a patient's eating habits to ensure they are getting needed vitamins.

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